Magic Hats, Magic Wands, Magic Words, and other Magical Moments from my “Reading is MAGIC!” Camp that I held at my home this past week:
- 15 fabulous kids gathered round a big pot on the red rug in my playroom slurping spaghetti as we read Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola.
- “Swimming” in the overflowing pot (pool) of spaghetti in the backyard, with “sauce” from the sprinklers!
- 2 fabulous “junior” counselors helping to make the magical atmosphere “appear” each morning and the mess “disappear” each afternoon.
- Getting the rapt and active attention of a whole “reading rug” full of children as I bring the magical story-books to life through music, imagination, and interaction.
- Passing the “Peace” rock each day while taking deep breaths and singing Mr. Rogers’ “Peace and Quiet” song.
- Guiding the children in discovering how their mouths make sounds while looking in magical mirrors.
- Children “reading” their magical ingredient cards, then adding their food to the blender for “Magic Milkshakes”!
- More new experiences and adventures: riding a magical carpet to Dino-land, potato sack “donkey” races and rock-painting after reading Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, quiet reading in a shark tent, tasting Vegemite after reading Magic Possum by Mem Fox.
- Guiding the children in becoming invisible and visible again with magical scarves, then guiding the parents in embracing them and saying “You look wonderful, you precious possum!” just like Grandma Poss does with Hush.
- Having wonderful one-on-one “coloring” conversations with each child about the things they love to do with their families, inspired by the beautiful last page of Sylvester, when he’s back home in a loving “family hug” with mommy and daddy donkey.
- Peeking in to see the children reading to each other by flashlight in the reading “fort” (made of blanket and a tunnel).
- Teaching children to write their letters and names – what a privilege!
- Watching the children excitedly lead their grown-ups around my home to show them their favorite “stations”, books to read, games to play, activities and crafts. “Mommy, Mommy, come see!”
- Reading Shel Silverstein poetry over “Magic Pops” and Nutella.
- Introducing wonderful and beloved story-book characters to young children for the first time like “Puff the Magic Dragon” and Elephant and Piggy (from the Mo Willems book, Today I Will Fly).
- Sitting at the piano accompanying the many “rocking” horses galloping around the house after my magic wand turned them into “real” horses!
- Playing “Mother Mouse” to a whole litter of little mice who hide from the Chloe the cat by becoming “invisible” via magical dust from the musical chime tree.
- Hearing that the children are teaching their parents these magical games to play at home, using their own magic glitter-painted wands!
- Hearing that the children have been enjoying their new magical books at home over and over with their parents.
- Finding star post-its with letters written on them around my house on items, and giving a smile: “r” on a bathroom rug, “d” on the head of Ellie’s doll, “w” on the water pitcher. The kids had so much fun racing around the house to play this “sound scavenger hunt” game. (I mean “jumping up and down” excited fun!)
- Singing “On Top of Spaghetti”, a great story-song for strengthening verbal memory, over Chef Boyardee letter pasta and meatballs.
- Trying on different “magical hats” after reading The Magic Hat by Mem Fox.
- “Writing” on the kitchen table which I’ve covered in whip cream! YUMMY!
- Playing and “writing” in nine kinds of pie! (Inspired by Harold’s purple-crayon-drawn picnic)
- No drop-off tears, no injuries, no potty accidents for the entire week! Now that’s magical.
- Several children saying it was their favorite they did all summer!
- Watching 2 young girls who’ve not had group social experiences before come out of their shells and connect through pretend play with the doll house, and magical fairy.
- Overhearing the kids saying the “magical” appearing rhyme (parents, you might want to try this at home): “Abracadabra, Alakazam, follow my voice to where I am!”
- Singing each day of the magical power of books in my new song, “Read a Book”! (And overhearing the children singing it as they play and read to one another – oh, so gratifying!) Watch the video and learn the song
- Taking a well-deserved nap each afternoon.
- Handing out hugs along with a special “Miss Lowry”-made “reading keychain” to each child as they left on the final day.
This week was truly the partial-fulfillment of a dream I have had for several years – hosting a camp, a multi-sensory learning adventure in my own home. This was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do it, but not the last! I said it was the “partial” fulfillment of a dream because I have so many more “Mommy Manders” camps of different themes brewing in my brain that I look forward to bringing to fruition. (This week worked extremely well because my kids were spending it with their Cha Cha and Butchie at “Santa Maria Ranch” camp – their home in Oklahoma.)
My “Reading is MAGIC!” Camp focused on a different magical story-book each day, with related crafts, activities, music and movement, snacks, and more. All intentionally and carefully chosen to strengthen childrens’ pre-reding and pre-writing skills through play and “magical” fun! If you live in Dallas, don’t miss it next year! If you’re a teacher or parent in another city who is interested in hosting your own “Reading is MAGIC!’ Camp or using it in a classroom, I can sell you the curriculum. LOTS of great ideas that could be extended for 5 whole weeks of fun in a pre-school/ elementary school/ home school setting, as well. It includes all the great developmental tips and “connection” activities for parents to extend the learning and bonding at home. Let me know if you’re interested, and I’d love to pass on my ideas…I feel very passionate about the responsibility and privilege that both parents and teachers have of modeling and instilling a lifelong love of reading in ALL children. And I loved making a difference this week in the reading lives of these wonderful families! Can’t wait until next year…
Video: Watch the past play fun!